According to a report from Global News, “U.S. President Donald Trump injected fresh drama into an already tense meeting of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations Friday, calling for Russia, ousted for its the annexation of Crimea, to be reinstated … [and] … Trump made the comment at the White House Friday after hours of further escalating his rhetoric against longtime allies over U.S. trade practices.” His tweet said ““Why are we having a meeting without Russia in the meeting? … They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”” This is about the silliest notion I have heard all year. It’s arrant bloody nonsense from a man who, I suspect, simply doesn’t know any better.
The G7 began as the G5 (America, Britain, France, Germany and Japan) back in the 1970s. It started as a meeting of finance ministers representing, then almost half of the world’s GDP and, equally as important, representing free market, democratic countries. It was, still in the 1970s, enlarged to the G6 when Italy joined the group and then to G7 in 1976 Canada was invited in and in 1977 the EU joined as an observer: it was now a head of government meeting but it still about half of the world’s GDP and it was still a group of major free market, democratic countries. In the mid 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR and when there were dreams of a democratic Russia, Russia was invited to join. Of course, Russia never did become anything like a democracy or a free market economy and it was eventually expelled.
President Trump is right in one respect: we, the US led West, should be negotiating with Russia … but he’s wrong to think that the G7 summit is a useful place to do that. Russia doesn’t fit. This is a meeting of the “first world.” In a more perfect world it might involve, in addition to the EU, ASEAN, NAFTA, the RCEP and the TPP. In addition to the current seven “regular members” it could include, in my opinion, Australia, India, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland: a G12+ of democratic, free market nations and trade groups.
The qualifications for entry should be: democracy (which excludes China and Russia and all the Arab and most African states, free market economy, which excludes many, many other countries and some sort of political stability, which, for now, anyway, excludes e.g. Brazil. The mandate should remain vague and flexible.
President Trump apparently doesn’t like the G7 because the other leaders treat him as a colleague, not as their monarch. He might decide not to host a G7 summit in 2019, when it is his turn … if that happens then the UK might host a G6 instead and there will be room to invite e.g. Australia and India and so on.
Let us hope that President Trump does, indeed, negotiate with Russia and China … in fora other than one for free market democracies where neither country fits.